My copy of Battlelore finally arrived last Friday, and I took a few shots up on my Flickr feed. I've gotten to play it three or four times now and I like it quite a bit. I think I probably like it better than Memoir '44, which is saying quite a bit. There are several reasons for that.
This is the first scenario (Agincourt) set up. The camera is on the English side.
- The Command deck. I feel like the deck allows you to move more units than the Memoir deck. Ordering three units seems the standard, and it's not that uncommon to get to move even more. I like Memoir, but it feels like things in happen in slow motion sometimes - especially when you're playing the Allies and you are trying to deploy up the beach, one or two units at a time.
- Increased melee importance. I've played the first three scenarios, and the only ranged elements in those are longbows. They work and they can be decisive if used right, but it's very different from Memoir where everything has a range and there's a lot of nattering about with "at that range I can roll one die" lucky stuff.
- The morale rules. In Memoir you almost never want units bunched up because of the retreat rules. (If you've never played Memoir there are special dice rolled to resolve combat and one die face is a retreat flag. When an attacker rolls dice each flag means the defender has to retreat one hex back toward their side of the board. There are only two hexes to choose from and if they are both blocked the retreat counts as a hit. So you have to be careful to not block a unit's retreat lines with other units.) Battlelore has the same retreat rules, but units adjacent to two other units are Bold. Bold units ignore the first flag rolled, which is great. Even better is that if a bold unit holds their ground they may counterattack right then. So while bunching units can occasionally cause retreat issues the battle back thing is well worth it. A clump of units on a hilltop can cause major headaches for an attacker. As it should.
- The theme. I probably prefer fantasy over WWII anyway, but Memoir '44 is much more limited than WWII (without the expansions anyway). The basic Memoir is pretty much just D-Day and related campaigns. So you have a beach, and the Germans have some fortified positions and the Allied forces charge up the beach. It's a fine game, but BattleLore has more variety in the first few scenarios.
- The chrome. It's a minor detail, but the figures with the flags are just cool. I mean Memoir's figures are cool, but I think the BattleLore pennants win.
I'd still love to play more Memoir '44, but I quite like BattleLore. And I haven't even gotten to the advanced scenarios with the Lore Council, Lore Deck, and Creatures yet! (I did play the first scenario with non-human units - the goblinoid forces. I have yet to play the one with dwarves.)
I think there are enough Memoir sets in my local gaming crowd (I know of three sets, counting mine, plus now I have BattleLore) that I may try to host a "Command and Colors" Gaming Day after the Holidays. It will get less turnout than the more casual Game Day, but maybe there's enough interest to support both flavors.
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